473. Telegram From the Department of State to the Embassy in Thailand 1

2757. Thai Ambassador called on Robertson May 5 to present memorandum which indicated he had assisted Field Marshal Sarit prepare as background for upcoming meeting with President.2

After expression gratitude for US courtesies and fact US medical treatment prolonged his life, memorandum indicated Sarit’s concern, as one who shares responsibilities in securing security welfare Thailand, re situation Southeast Asia. It affirms Thailand’s and Field Marshal’s intention remain on free world side and expresses hope “present case will not be considered as a trifle” and “may lead to some concrete results”.

Memorandum states Communists aim to encircle Thailand and refers unabated subversive activities including flirtation Thai elements with Communists (mentions ChiCom efforts use Pridi and exploitation ChiCom trade to subsidize subversion). Recommends making Thailand barrier to Communist southward move by strengthening democratic government’s influence and stability, aiding improvement Thai economy and living conditions Thai people, and strengthening Thai armed forces. Requests designation US official discuss with Sarit short-term and long-range plan fight against Communist subversion and potential aggression, and establishment small “unofficial” body in Thailand to direct operations.

Memorandum asserts Thailand’s best efforts not equal to task improving economy and living conditions and, with special emphasis on northeast, calls for measures to increase productivity, diversify national income by setting up processing industries, improve communications and power sources as well as Thai technical skills.

Memorandum affirms intention observe SEATO obligations and states Thailand does not wish more military units than have been agreed upon. Calls for erection factories to insure military supplies, improvement communications and armed forces welfare, all Thai military units to be covered by MAP and fighting efficiency increased and adds “mutual aid system should be replaced by full aid” because of [Page 999] Thai economic difficulties (Ambassador’s comments suggest this relates to JUSMAG administrative and logistical support costs). Purpose foregoing to enable Thailand better perform role Southeast Asia.

Memorandum concludes with request for US sympathy and cooperation in Thailand’s precarious situation. End Summary.

Robertson pointed out impossibility making major alterations in FY 1959 aid programs on which preparation commenced one year ago on basis consultations between US representatives and those of countries receiving aid, and which now before Congress. Also emphasized Congressional responsibility for appropriation and necessity that executive, after giving strenuous support to aid proposals, pro-rate resulting appropriations among countries to be aided. Added he had never known President to discuss details programs in individual countries, but concluded it important for Sarit to describe for President problems Thailand and Southeast Asia in which Robertson sure President would be interested.

Herter
  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 792.551/5–558. Confidential.
  2. A copy of the Thai memorandum is in the briefing materials for the Sarit talks; Ibid., 792.5–MSP/5–1358.